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Desert Studies Center

Reservations and Guest Information

Reservation Procedure

Most of those who make use of the Center are either enrolled in college or university courses involved in some aspect of desert education such as archaeology, biology, geography, geology and history, or are engaged in research related to the desert. However, school groups and organized community groups whose activities are desert-oriented can also be accommodated and are welcomed. Advance reservations are necessary, both for those planning to stay overnight and for day-only use. To begin the process:

1. Contact our Administrative Coordinator, Norma Charest, at (657) 278-2428 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to determine space availability. She will need the proposed dates of your visit, the number in the group, purpose for your visit, institution or group name, food plans (see 3 below), and the main contact person’s information. You will then be sent a reservation packet.

2. Payment of use fees (including catering fees) should be submitted to our campus office at least 30 days in advance of your arrival date.

3. Those opting for catered food service at the Center (preferred) must provide a list of which meals will be needed each day, including lunches to go into the field. It is important to poll the members of your group about any dietary restrictions, food allergies, etc., and let us know ASAP. If your group prefers to prepare their own meals (limited space available), you will need to obtain a special use kitchen permit from the San Bernardino County Public Health Department to use our facilities. Our office can provide the permit application form but this should be done well in advance.


Users of the DSC are those individuals and groups whose activities are aligned with the mission of the California Desert Studies Consortium (CDSC). Commercial users will be charged the lodging rate listed in the Government Services Administration for the Baker, CA area. Commercial or other users will not displace student groups. Maintenance, Upkeep and Repair (MUR) fees for users are listed below. User classification is at the discretion of the Faculty Director. The MUR fee, which is subject to change without notice, is currently:

  • CSU Desert Studies Consortium campuses and official National Park Service use = $9/person/night
  • Other CSU campuses = $11/person/night
  • Non-CSU academic use = $18/person/night
  • Facility day-use only fee = $5/person/day
  • National Park Service approved commercial use (e.g., film production, etc.) = $95/person/night

For use of the Researcher Residences, the rate structure is:

  • CSU Desert Studies Consortium campuses and official National Park Service use = $60 for the 1stperson/1stnight, thereafter, $20/1stperson/night AND $9/night/each additional person
  • Other CSU campuses = $60 for the 1stperson/1stnight, thereafter, $20/1stperson/night AND $11/night/each additional person
  • Non-CSU = $95 for the 1stperson/1stnight, thereafter, $30/1stperson/night AND $18/night/each additional person

Please note that the fee is set according to the number of spaces originally reserved; refunds for reductions of group size or cancellation are available up to 14 days prior to arrival.

Research Permits

If you or group members will be conducting research, you are required to fill out a DSC research permit application. The Center Managers can assist you with how to obtain government permits required by the National Park Service for the Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park, or as required by the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, or the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These permits can have a long-lead time so you should start the process as early as possible.

After Confirmation

At least 10 days before your arrival, you must send the provided roster sheet showing ALL who will be in attendance (including gender), any special requests for couples, family or single occupancy rooms (these can sometimes be accommodated but cannot be guaranteed), and a daily itinerary. If group members will be arriving or departing on alternative dates during your stay, indicate those on the roster or itinerary. Email the roster, itinerary and any special requests to the Site Manager at the Center.

If you will require any special room setups, AV equipment, lab equipment, or other items, please contact the DSC Managers in advance. They can also provide information on the greater region and its resources in advance of, or during your stay.

If the numbers in your group decrease from those originally proposed, you must notify our office within 14 days of arrival. Reduction or refund of fees due to reduced numbers in the group will not be issued within 10 days without the consent of the Director.

Finally, please be sure to copy and disseminate the list of items to bring to the Center to all participants. Please make sure every member of your group is well informed and prepared.

Arriving at the DSC

Groups are strongly encouraged to arrive as a group, with their group leader(s), and by 5 PM. Arrivals over various times on the arrival date are acceptable, but the mandatory orientation and room assignments will not take place until the entire group is on site. Agreeing to a target rendezvous time for the group works best, particularly if coming from different places/distances. Arrivals after 10 PM will be by prior arrangement with the Manager ONLY.

Conduct and Obligations of Guests

Typically, guests from several groups share the DSC at one time, operating on different schedules and with differing interests. While this can make your visit more interesting, it also makes certain codes of conduct and obligations necessary. Generally, conduct suitable to a school campus is expected. There is a strict quiet policy in and around dormitories after 10PM. Group leaders are required to arrive with or in advance of their group, check in with the DSC Manager, and arrange for a brief orientation and assignment of facilities with the group.

The DSC operates on a “self-housekeeping” basis; guests are required to follow the posted clean up procedures in their dorm rooms before departure and help keep dining and other common use areas clean during their stay, including any kitchen facilities they are permitted to use. This is a requirement. Please include time for clean up when planning your itinerary. Pets are not allowed at the DSC, and University and National Park Service regulations prohibit the possession of firearms. DSC buildings are a no smoking facility, however guests may smoke outdoors, away from the buildings, and use the butt receptacles provided.

The Desert Studies Center is located within the Mojave National Preserve, and encompasses several sensitive habitats, archaeological and historical sites, and a pond and spring containing Mojave Tui Chub, an endangered fish. Therefore, please do no collect any material, plants or animals without prior authorization and do not wade or throw anything into the ponds. The Manager reserves the right to remove any guest from the DSC whose conduct interferes with other guests or conflicts with the goals and purposes of the Desert Studies Center.

Safety Considerations

The rugged and wild nature of the Mojave Desert requires attention to certain safety issues. During warmer months, adequate precautions must be taken to avoid dehydration and sunstroke. Carry plenty of water and wear a hat. Due diligence in avoiding unwanted encounters with scorpions, black widows and rattlesnakes is required. No person should hike alone without knowing the terrain or without notifying a group member or the DSC staff about his or her route and return time. Abandoned mine workings should be avoided. Groups traveling in the field are required to carry a first aid kit.

If vehicle travel in remote areas is required, proper precautions should be made against mechanical breakdown or getting stuck in mud or sand, and contingencies should be planned if they occur. Caravans should have procedures to ensure that no vehicles get separated from the group. If you have any questions about appropriate safety precautions/procedures, or in the event of illness, injury or other medical emergencies while at the DSC, contact the Manager who will assist you.